This weeks lesson from home is, Cleaning Out Your Refrigerator. My mom always taught me to clean out the refrigerator weekly before you buy this weeks groceries. But first, I want you to do a once a month thorough cleaning, this entails; 1. Take everything out of the refrigerator. 2. Throw away any food that looks moldy, smells funny or is expired. Open up salsa jars too and smell them, especially if some of your friends dip a chip right into the jar, (I have seen this happen.) 3. Take all removable parts of the inside of the refrigerator out and clean them well. 4. Fill your sink with warm, sudsy dishwashing soap. 5. Clean all parts of the refrigerator including the wire shelves, vegetable drawers and glass shelving. 6. Rinse with warm water. 7. Dry with a paper towel, sometimes cloth towels will leave lint behind. 8. Clean the inside of the refrigerator, look in the corners and down at the bottom of your fridge. If it is a tough spill, take your washcloth or sponge and scrub hard. Don’t use a brillo pad or any rough side to a sponge, this may permanently scratch the refrigerator.9.  Using paper towels, wipe dry the inside of the refrigerator. 10. Before replacing the jars into the refrigerator, be sure to wipe off any jar that may be sticky.

Weekly Cleaning: Now after you have done your thorough cleaning, all you have to do now is weekly cleaning, just wipe down each shelf before you go to the market to buy this weeks groceries. This will allow you to see the items you already have in your fridge. When you buy any meats wrap them in a plastic bag before putting in your refrigerator just in case some of the juices run out of the packaging. Now not only will your refrigerator look cleaner, it will smell clean too.

How long can food stay in the refrigerator?

Eggs: 3-5 weeks, check the “best before” date

Egg Substitute: opened package 3 days only; unopened package 10 days , don’t freeze this product.

Hot Dogs: if you open the package its only good for 1 week. You can freeze hot dogs up to 2 months in the freezer.

Lunch meat: if opened, 3-5 days, be sure to smell the lunch meat if you”re not sure, if it has a smell, don’t eat it. You can freeze lunch meat up to 2 months.

Chicken: Uncooked it can remain in the refrigerator 2-3 days. Uncooked in the freezer will last 3 months. If you cook chicken, it can stay in your refrigerator up to 3 days or you can freeze it and it will be fine up to 3-4 months.

Meats: Uncooked it can remain in the refrigerator, 3-5 days. Uncooked meat can be frozen up to 6 months in the freezer. If you cook meat, you can refrigerate up to 4 days and in the freezer up to 6 months.

Milk: Only good for one week, store on top shelf.

Cheese: Always keep wrapped. Cheese can be frozen up to 1 month. Store in the deli/cheese drawer of your refrigerator if you have one, otherwise store in a plastic container on the top shelf.

Leftover pizza: I know you like it for breakfast, but its only good for 1-2 days, don’t put it back in the box, wrap it or put it in a zip-lock baggie.

I always prefer to buy seafood fresh, I don’t care what anyone says about freezing fish, once it thaws it always smells stinky.

Always put food into the fridge within 2 hours of eating, this includes your take-out food too.

If you freeze any thing, allow one to two days in the refrigerator to de thaw. Never let meat sit on the counter to thaw.   !

Your refrigerator temperature should always be set between 32-40* F. check your control knob just to be sure the temperature is correct. At this temperature, the growth of bacteria in food will slow down and shouldn’t allow ice crystals from forming on your food.    When you store food in the refrigerator or freezer always cover the food, food smell will spread and dry out if it is not covered properly. Don’t squish all of your groceries together, allow space so cold air will circulate the food. Your top shelf will be the coldest temperature and the food on the door will be the least cool. Be sure to put vegetables, especially lettuce in the crisper drawer. Most ketchup does not have to be refrigerated, read you label on your ketchup bottle just to be sure.Potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes and banana’s do not need to be refrigerated. Bread, and other pastries can be refrigerated, just remove from fridge 30 minutes before eating. Butter must be refrigerated unless you have that butter dish from France in which the butter stays immersed in clean water for up to a week. Don’t wash your fruit and then place in the refrigerator this will cause the fruit to go soft too quickly. Wash all fruit, right before you eat it.

The best rule of thumb when you are not sure if a food is safe or not to eat… When in doubt throw it out!